Burlingame making a splash in the PAL 

Burlingame High School’s swim team is confident heading into the Peninsula Athletic League Championships and hopes to claim both the boys’ and girls’ titles on Saturday.

“This year we had 90 kids come out,” Burlingame coach Christopher Culp said. “We have quite a bit of talent.”
Burlingame won the girls’ PAL dual meet title and came close to winning the boys’ and girls’ PAL Championships last year.

“[We] could have been contenders,” Culp said about his team after some unfortunate disqualifications.

But Burlingame has a powerhouse standing in the way. Menlo-Atherton is the top dog in the PAL and, along with winning the boys’ PAL dual meet title last year, claimed the boys’ and girls’ PAL Championships.

“Every year is a little different,” Culp said. “My mentality was that we were going to be weaker.”
Burlingame had its top swimmers graduate, but with an infusion of young swimmers, it has become deeper this season.

Freshman Leah Goldman has excelled in her first season with the girls’ team.

Maddy Gebhard and Cristen Andersen have also stepped up big, while Naomi Thomas has been a steadying presence.

On the boys’ side, Eric Baker, who was not on varsity last year, has been huge for Burlingame.

The Panthers will be missing a few swimmers, but as Culp said, “We will run with what we got.”

Neither team may have the best individual swimmers, but collectively has quality depth in a number of events.

The 200-meter individual medley, 100 butterfly and relay teams are the strength of the girls’ team.

The boys have excelled in the 100 backstroke and 200 I.M.

Without putting any extra pressure on his swimmers, Culp said his team needs to improve in staying calm and collected during relay races.

“I just want to put the kids in their events and make sure they have fun,” Culp said.

Burlingame faced M-A on Thursday and Culp, recognizing the Bears’ ability, sees it as a measuring stick.

“It’s a good guideline on how the championships will turn out,” Culp said.

With Burlingame being in the hunt for the past couple years, the Panthers are confident they can overtake M-A on Saturday.

“In the past, we’ve snuck up on them,” Culp said. He also said

M-A will be prepared for them this time.

Despite this preparation by M-A, Burlingame remains calm.

“[We’re] confident we could achieve both,” Culp said of the boys’ and girls’ titles.

The time trials will take place Wednesday and Thursday before beginning the meet Saturday at Burlingame High School. The Central Coast Section championships will be held May 20-21 at the Santa Clara Swim Center.

PAL Championships

WHEN: Trials, Wednesday-Thursday; Finals, Saturday

WHERE: Burlingame High School

CCS MEET: The Central Coast Section Championships will be held May 20-21 at Santa Clara Swim Center

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Zack Farmer

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